TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals rookie Tyrann Mathieu may have had the play of the game on Sunday when he prevented a St. Louis touchdown late in the first quarter. He showed his athleticism and speed as he tracked St. Louis tight end Jared Cook all the way back to the one-yard line where he knocked the ball out for a fumble on what would’ve been a touchdown and a 7-0 Rams’ lead.
Those watching the game and tweeting about it seemed to think it was a pretty remarkable play, but on Monday, Mathieu shrugged it off.
“It’s a typical play we practice in individual drills. I just try to take the things that we practice — try to take them to the field,” said Mathieu at the team’s practice facility.
Reporters didn’t want to let him off the hook that easily and continued to prod him about the play, saying it was anything but typical to cover that much ground and not give up on it.
“It was an effort play, man,” said the 21-year-old.
“Obviously, it was a big play for those guys (St. Louis) and you just try to swing the game whenever you get a chance to, and that was my chance to.”
The former LSU star was third on the team with seven tackles on the day. In comparison, his friend and mentor Patrick Peterson had just five tackles in his first NFL game in 2011 and didn’t force a fumble his entire rookie campaign.
Despite the highlight reel play, Mathieu wasn’t going to brag about himself on Monday.
“I didn’t make the plays I wanted to make after that. I think we can play better as a defense; we can create more pressure up front. On the back end, we definitely need to get our hands on a lot more balls,” said the young safety.
“Overall, as a defense, I think we played pretty good. I think we just need to get off the field on those third downs.”
Mathieu was also asked about his experience in his first meaningful NFL game and how much it differed from his days at LSU.
“It wasn’t that much different. I mean intensity was high and guys were flying around. I was just happy to be out there. The crowd was amazing in St. Louis,” he said.
Speaking of the crowd and the noise, the rookie is looking forward to playing in front of the hometown fans at University of Phoenix Stadium this week against the Lions.
“I’m excited. I hear that the Cardinals are pretty much sold out every year, so I’m definitely excited to play in front of our fans.”